At least seven people were killed in Kashmir following 16 hours of incessant snowfall on Thursday, The Hindu reported. The Jammu-Srinagar Highway remained blocked for the second day on Friday due to heavy snowfall, cutting off the Kashmir Valley from the rest of India.
The deceased included two Army personnel, whose vehicle met with an accident due to poor visibility in Langate area of Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir, India Today reported. Two Army porters were also killed after being trapped in snow in the district, while the rest of the deceased were civilians.
The winter season’s first heavy snowfall started on Wednesday night and continued all day on Thursday, the newspaper reported. It also triggered avalanches in many places.
Apart from the blockade on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, traffic on the Srinagar-Poonch highway and the Srinagar-Kargil highway was also disrupted. Around 2,000 vehicles were left stranded on these stretches.
“The Jammu-Srinagar highway remains closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall on either side of the Jawahar Tunnel,” a traffic department official told PTI on Friday. “Efforts are on to restore the traffic at the earliest possible.”
An official from the Airports Authority of India said all flights to and from Srinagar have been cancelled. “The runway is clear but the visibility is poor, which has resulted in no flights being able to operate at Srinagar airport,” he said. “Depending on the weather situation, flights may be able to operate later in the day.”
The rainfall also caused uprooting of trees and electric poles in parts of Srinagar. Most shops in Srinagar remained closed and attendance at government offices was low due to the inclement weather.
The situation was also accentuated by a partial curfew that remains in force in Jammu and Kashmir, over three months after India abrogated the state’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution, and divided it into two Union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. While postpaid mobile phone services have been restored and schools reopened, internet services remain banned, and there have been incidences of protests in the Valley.
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